6 Quick Ways to Increase Productivity Now

how to improve productivity


Wouldn’t it be great to maximize your performance and increase your personal productivity at work?

You already work hard, and you work long hours, but there are things you can do to make the time you put in more productive than it already is.

Here are six suggestions on how to increase productivity.

1. Make Priorities and Stick with Them

The most successful and productive people set out what is important to them and then they stick to their priorities. If you want to follow their lead, then every morning before you begin work you should outline what you want to accomplish that day.

Make a list of your priorities, things that you want to or have to make happen that day. Then check your list at noon before you head off for lunch. How are you doing? Are you spending your time working towards your priorities or are you getting sidetracked by the priorities of others?

At the end of the day, take the time to review your progress. Note what slowed you down and make up your new list for when you come back in the morning.

2. Take Breaks That Give You Energy

Having a rest is an important tool to help you stay alert and focused throughout the working day, but you can turn your rest breaks into productivity breaks that can give you even more energy for work.

Going for a walk is one of the best and most productive things you can do when you want a break from the workday routine. It clears your mind and refreshes your body. Drink a glass of water before you head off on your walk, which can be as short as five or ten minutes. Then drink another glass when you get back. We are made of mostly water, and drinking more hydrates us and gives us more energy for our daily tasks.

You can also just switch things up at work to get an energizing break. Stop processing all those orders and take the time to call back one of your leads. You might make a new sale. You will also be happier and more motivated when you go back to processing that pile of orders.

3. Work When You Work Best

Some of us are early morning risers and other like to burn the midnight oil. Figure out when you are most productive and then make sure you are working during those hours. If you like to stay up late, then why not ask your boss if you can adapt your working hours to meet the times when you feel most energized and productive?

If you work when you want to work, you will be motivated and a better worker, and your productivity should automatically improve. Even if your office or workplace has fixed working hours, most employers are happy to accommodate such requests — especially if you can show that by coming in earlier or working later, you can improve and increase your productivity at work.

4. Focus: Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

People who can focus in on the most important tasks are the most sought after workers in the modern workforce. They have an ability to zero in on one thing, get it done and then move to the next task with a fluidity that reminds you of a running back in football who manages to find the hole in the defense to pick up the necessary yards to get a first down.

One of the keys to getting and maintaining that focus is to stop multitasking. There will be times during the working day when you have to manage three or four of five things at once. Every chance you get, shut off all of the channels until you can focus in on that one specific task or responsibility and give it all your attention, even if it’s just for ten minutes.

The other way to focus is break up big jobs into smaller and more doable portions. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you focus? One task at a time.

5. Shut Off Your Brain

When you feel like you simply can’t process one more byte of information, it may be time to shut down your processor and shut off your brain. This is also what some very smart people do when they want to improve their productivity. If it sounds hard to do, that’s because it is.

Most of us are paid to think, and the idea of just shutting off that resource is almost unthinkable. The reality is that most of us actually spend too much time thinking about doing something rather than just doing it. If you want to shut off your brain, try focusing in on the task that is right in front of you.

Instead of thinking about making those cold calls and what reaction you will get, and just make the calls. Give your attention to the action, to the doing, and let go of the outcome. You might be surprised at the results. You may not make all the sales you wanted, but you will have accomplished your task for today and the efforts you make today will always pay off. Thinking about them never will.

6. Take Care of Yourself

If you really want to improve your productivity at work, you should start with taking care of yourself. That should include your physical, mental and emotional well-being, and it can be as simple as eating well, getting enough sleep and regular exercise. Your body and your brain are the vehicles that you are driving and if you want maximum performance and productivity you have to keep them both in good operating condition.

This also means not abusing your body through too much sugar, caffeine or alcohol, and having healthy ways to relax and enjoy the rest of your life. Pay attention to any signs that your body gives you about being over-tired and make sure to have regular, annual physicals.

If you get sick, don’t try and work through it. Let your body recover so that it can once again bring you to peak performance and productivity at work.

Do you have a tip for how to increase productivity? Leave it in the comments!

(Photo Credit: Dan Thorburn)


Mike Martin is a freelance writer and consultant specializing in workplace wellness and conflict resolution. He is the author of Change the Things You Can (Dealing with Difficult People). For more information about Mike please visit: Change the Things You Can
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Discussion

  1. Stephen Moore on the 9th July

    For me, number four – focus – is the most important tip on this list. Killing my phone’s notifications, closing all of the irrelevant windows and tabs on my computer, and finding the right music help me demolish my to do list.

  2. Daquan Wright on the 9th July

    Heh….the “not” multi-tasking part is killing me right now. I work a full-time job and go to school in the fall/spring/winter. But at home I need to be learning Spanish/Japanese (work/entertainment) and design/develop my website. I have multiple tabs open and there is so much I can do on my PC, I really struggle with not doing so much multi-tasking.

    Happy I read this article, just the area I need to hone in on. I need to just focus on a single task and knock my items out one by one. Then we all know how distracting FB or e-mails can get. Just gotta know how to put extra stuff to the side, until you’re ready for it.

    Thanks for the article.

  3. Jonathan Clift on the 19th July

    The more you read about this subject, the more you realise that it’s the simple steps that help you increase your productivity. For me, my biggest problem is that I’m constantly trying to do too many things at once. Whilst I try and prioritise, I’m constantly thinking of the next thing I want to do and end up bouncing back and fourth between tasks without completely them properly.

    There are a couple of things I do which really help with this. Firstly, I have a list of all todos grouped into now, tomorrow, future. Then each morning, I look at this list and decide what I’m going to get done BUT I only flag items that I’m 100% sure I will complete and items that I when I complete will make my day a productive one. By doing this I ensure that I don’t ‘fail’ by not getting round to completing a certain task and when I look back on the day I know the tasks I’ve completed have made it a successful one.

    Secondly, if I really need some focus, I use something called the Pomodoro technique which is a way to focus your mind, doing short sprints (25mins) of effort on a specific task and then taking a short break and doing it all over again.

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